The Straw Millionaire, the Cat, and the Princess Volume 1 Chapter 2 part 4

On the afternoon of January 2nd, in the twenty-second year of the chaotic calendar, we were in the dungeon again. It was early in the new year, and surprisingly, there were a moderate number of people gathered in the usual square where we thought no one would be.
“Happy New Year… oh! Ashtrays have been installed!”
The muscular guy with two cigarettes, who came waving as soon as we opened the store, smiled happily at the sight of the red ashtrays.
“Congratulations! We invested in facilities.”
“Is that cardboard over there?”
“That’s the dining area. You can even take a nap there.”
“Well, it’s better than the ground, isn’t it?”
When Mars said that, the guy with two cigarettes nodded deeply after some thought.
“Well, yeah, I guess it’s nice to have. The ground is hard and cold… Normally, you can’t bring such bulky things, so cardboard becomes surprisingly valuable.”
“And that partition over there is a makeshift toilet! For emergencies!”
“That might be the best thing!!”
Seems like everyone was holding it in for the toilet.
“We bought it, so feel free to use it when you can’t hold it anymore.”
The guy with two cigarettes looked puzzled at Mars’ words, then looked at his own sword at his waist, seemed to understand, and tapped the pommel.
“You mean the sword. I’m Ganki, nice to meet you.”
“I’m Kawashima.”
“I’m Mars.”
“Oh, even a mysterious procurement agent has a normal name.”
Ganki laughed refreshingly and took out his wallet from his pocket.
“Can you give me coffee and cigarettes?”
“Sure thing.”
I received four hundred yen instead of coffee and cigarettes.
“Will you guys come tomorrow as well?”
“Sorry, we’re off tomorrow.”
“I see. I was counting on you for food if you came… well, you must have plans too, so it can’t be helped.”
Saying that, Ganki headed toward the ashtray with a cigarette in his mouth. Certainly, people who spend a long time in the dungeon would bring food, and if they don’t eat it, it becomes baggage and goes to waste. It’s understandable that lunches weren’t provided much so far.
“Should we make a schedule for the food stall?”
“I don’t think you need to worry too much.”
“It’s annoying if people complain about not being able to come as planned… in a battlefield where lives are at stake, people who rely on others for supplies from the beginning can’t live long.”
That may be true. Our shop shouldn’t be a supply route, but it might be better to exist as one of the options.
“Oh, but wouldn’t it be okay if we use SNS?”
“On the internet, you announce which day of the week you’ll be in the dungeon.”
“Would anyone really see that?”
“Surprisingly, they might. The power of the internet is amazing, and it’s free to do.”
Even this dungeon has Wi-Fi reaching up to this square, and with a good selection of items, we could attract more customers… Well, if we go that far, it might attract unwanted attention. Let’s start off catering to those who understand the deal.
“Well, you should do it however you want, Tonbo.”
“I’ll give it a try, I’ll give it a try. You know, I actually enjoy coming up with this kind of stuff. Like toilets and rest areas, thinking about them, arranging the environment, and making people happy.”
“Some people prefer the planning stage over the actual execution.”
They should say something like meticulous preparation or overflowing with hospitality. While pondering over such thoughts, I watched Mars play Match Three Puzzle on my smartphone, his ears twitching with each move, when I sensed someone approaching the table. I looked up, and there stood a woman wearing a black double rider’s jacket with heavy dark circles under her eyes, carrying a pink crossbow on her back.
“You’ve got quite the setup here.”
The woman pointed at the makeshift toilet partition. From the smoking area, Ganki-san’s voice called out, “Abukuma-san’s long-awaited toilet is here.” So, this woman’s name was Abukuma-san.
“Oh! A toilet!? Can I use it?”
“It’s a physiological necessity, so I feel bad charging you, but it’s a toilet that uses emergency coagulant, so it’s five hundred yen…”
It’s a physiological necessity indeed, and I actually want to offer it for free… but that could lead to other problems. Mars even said, “Charge them about a thousand yen.” He’s been doing it in the shadows all this time; if money is a concern, then that’s what they should do. Since there’s wind blowing normally in the dungeon, the smell doesn’t linger much either.
“I’ll pay, I’ll pay. Thank you for the toilet. But one might not be enough.”
“Huh? It’s five hundred yen per use? Well, not many people would use it so often…”
“Girls have various situations where they need a private space, so I think everyone would want to use a private booth in a safe area.”
“Is that so?”
“That’s how it is~”
Mars looked like he wanted to say something, but I pretended not to notice. Even if there’s demand for it, I still think charging a thousand yen for a toilet is too much. Abukuma-san gazed happily at the toilet for a while, but then she remembered something and looked at us with a serious expression.
“I forgot, can I have something sweet?”
“Something sweet, huh? What flavor do you want?”
“I’ll go with something cream-based today.”
Cream-based, huh.
“Then, how about a Double cream puffs?”
“How much is that?”
“Three hundred million yen.”
“What a rip-off.”
Saying that, Abukuma-san exchanged the Double cream puffs for three hundred yen and left. It was good to hear the opinions from the field. As soon as she left, a man dressed like a police special forces member, wearing a sturdy helmet and holding a polycarbonate shield, came running.
“Hey! Can I use the toilet!?”
“It’s five hundred yen.”
“Here you go!”
Abukuma placed the prepared five hundred yen coin down, placed the shield in front of the partition, and rolled into it. As soon as the door closed, I heard a sigh-like voice and some sounds I’d rather not hear.
Yeah, by the time next comes, I’ll make sure to be able to play music in the toilet… I looked at Mars, who had tucked his head into the baby carrier, and made that vow in my heart.


The next day, on the last day of the New Year, January 3rd, we left Tokyo to visit my parents’ house in Chiba. My parents always nag me to come back for the holidays since it’s close by. I think it’s okay to come back anytime since it’s so close, but… if I don’t keep it in mind, I might never come back for the holidays.
“Here’s my place.”
“It’s a detached house.”
“It’s secondhand, though.”
As I opened the sliding door to the family home with a tiled roof, I was greeted by a sight that hadn’t changed at all in twenty years. The yellowed push-button phone on the telephone stand. The calligraphy of “[Every Day is a Good Day]” hanging on the wall, written by me and my sister. On the worn-out hat rack, bags, scarves, and necklaces belonging to my mother and sister were haphazardly hung.
The only thing that seemed to have changed since I left was the addition of zebra-patterned slippers for guests in the entryway slipper rack.
“I’m home~”
As I said that, my mother’s voice came from the kitchen in the back.
“Huh? Tonbo? Are you coming home today? “
Since I could hear the sound of water, she was probably washing dishes while talking. It seemed she didn’t intend to come out to greet me. I took off my shoes, went inside, and briefly considered offering Mars some slippers, but decided against it. They were too big for a cat’s feet.
“You said you’d be back on the third.”
“Did I? I heard you were bringing friends, so I prepared futons in your room. Is that okay?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.”
“Oh, excuse me~”
“Oh my, you did bring friends. I’m not wearing any makeup. I’m sorry.”
As my mother came out into the hallway, swinging open the sliding door, she took a few steps toward us, looked intently at Mars, slowly approached, and, after a slight tremor in her body, screamed.
“Wow! Wow! Wow! Ma-chan’s back!! Oh! Papa!! Papa!! Chieri!! Ma-chan’s alive!!”
My mother rushed off to the living room in a hurry.
“What’s going on?”
“I told you before, Mars looks exactly like our dead cat.”
“Even after looking at the photo, I didn’t think we looked that similar…”
“Did you see their reaction? They totally think Mars the cat come back to life.”
As I discussed this with Mars, my parents and sister approached slowly down the hallway with a cautious posture.
“Mars! It’s really you!”
“Big brother, wasn’t Ma-chan dead!?”
“It’s because it’s New Year’s and everyone’s gathered. You’re such a good boy…”
My mother began to cry as she started to bow to Mars.
“Anyway, let’s go inside. I’ll explain everything.”
I pushed the three of them who were trying to approach Mars aggressively and ushered them into the living room. If they start hugging and cuddling, it’ll be a full-blown incident. Following behind me, Mars, looking a bit frightened, followed along, hiding behind me.
“We’re really sorry for the commotion the whole family caused.”
“No, it’s okay. Don’t worry about it.”
After a while, my dad, who had calmed down after drinking a cup of tea, apologized to Mars.
“But, well, don’t you think it’s like Ma-chan?”
“If you look so much alike, wouldn’t it be more believable to say you’ve come back as a Nekomata?”
I had told my family in advance that I would bring back a Cath Sith, a cat that looked a lot like him, but I guess I didn’t think they would look so much alike.
“Um, I’m not really Mars the cat.”
“But your name is Mars, right?”
“It’s a tremendous coincidence, isn’t it? Isn’t it fate?”
I named him Mars… but if we talk about aliens and stuff, even now my family’s capacity for understanding is about to overflow.
In addition, if I tell them that I’m currently an adventurer and doing barter transactions with a criminal organization from beyond the universe, it would be needless worry. For today, we decided to push through with the coincidence, and that’s what Mars and I had decided.
“Anyway, even if it’s left aside that you look so much like Mars the cat, it’s a wonderful connection. Please, think of this place as Mars-san’s Earth home and stay as long as you like.”
Despite saying something plausible, my dad is completely smitten with Mars. After all, my dad was the one who picked up Mars the cat, named him, raised him, and was the most depressed after he was gone. Now he’s saying, “Is it okay? Is it okay?” while taking pictures with his smartphone.
“Ma-chan… oh, I’m sorry, Mars-san. Is there anything you can’t eat for dinner?”
“Feel free to call me something easier to remember. And I can eat anything that Tonbo can eat.”
“It’s your first time in Japan, so what should we have for dinner?”
“Mom, sushi, sushi. Fish is good, right?”
“Let’s get pizza since we have a coupon.”
While my family is restless, Mars, who looks calm in contrast, sits on a child’s chair placed on the top seat of the kotatsu.
“Can I have a mandarin orange?”
As Mars says this and points to the mandarins piled up in the basket on the kotatsu, I pick one and hand it to him. Mars eats them as dessert every day even at my house in Tokyo.
“Mars-san, do you like mandarin oranges?”
“We don’t have such sweet fruits in my country.”
“Indeed, winter mandarins are sweet.”
“Hey hey, Mars-san, which country are you from?”
My sister asks, but it’s not like he can say it’s from beyond the universe… Mars looks awkward and shifts his gaze.
“Uh, I’m from Popinania…”
“What’s that! I really want to go! Is it a Cath Sith country?”
Honestly, I want to go there someday too.
“We only have our own kind living there, it’s a bit far though.”
In the end, we spent the evening with sushi, which we don’t usually have, and my dad opened his treasured Daiginjo sake after finding out that Mars liked it.
The next day, Mars was given a large amount of local specialty, simmered baby sardines, and mandarins that my dad thought were delicious. We left home in the early afternoon. It caused chaos in my family, and I struggled to respond, but… on the train ride back, Mars smiled, seeming somewhat pleased, saying, “As long as I’m welcomed in any form, it’s fine.”

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